Missile Defence

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  • Manish Sawankar asked: Is Agni V an ICBM?

    A. Vinod Kumar replies: Since the tested range of the Agni V cannot be independently verified, only DRDO's claims could be taken into account. Nonetheless, DRDO declares the system to have around 5000 km range, which is normally identified as an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM).

    There is no single globally accepted international definition for ICBM ranges, which vary from 5500 km by some groups to anything above 7000 km by others. The literal meaning reflects a capability of the system being able to travel from one continent to another farther one, if one is to trace the origins of ICBM technology and its initial application in the US-Soviet missile competition during the Cold War. In our case, if the intended target is China, then the need for intercontinental coverage doesn't arise as Beijing would be roughly within 4000 km from Delhi.

    Agni V Launches India into the ‘Strat’-o-sphere

    The Agni-V launch is a significant milestone for the Indian scientific community as this is the first missile with a strike-range covering major Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai.

    April 23, 2012

    Contours of a Possible Indian Riposte to Chinese Aggressiveness

    After assessing the weaknesses and gaps in Chinese capabilities and highlighting the positions of advantage that India enjoys, this essay proposes a strategy for a strong riposte against any Chinese adventurism.

    January 17, 2012

    NASR: A Disadvantage for Pakistan

    It makes little sense whether a strategic or tactical nuclear weapon is used by Pakistan, since India’s general response would be to carry out a punitive attack on the adversary.

    August 19, 2011

    What Does Pakistan Hope to Achieve with Nasr?

    The commentary addresses the pros and cons of Pakistan’s development of Nasr and concludes that it can be neutralised by India through innovative measures.

    August 17, 2011

    Russia-USA Stalemate on Tactical Nuclear Weapons

    The impasse over missile defence, CFE and NATO expansion has led to a stalemate in talks to reduce tactical nuclear weapons.

    March 17, 2011

    The New START, its positives, and the imponderables

    The durability of the New START will depend largely on how both sides value it as a means towards disarmament rather than for strategic competition.

    January 07, 2011

    Lavneet Singh asked: What is the role played by missiles (Prithivi etc.) in implementing Cold Start doctrine of our forces?

    Ali Ahmed replies: The term 'doctrine' appended to Cold Start is a misnomer. Instead, Cold Start is one strategy option the government has to exercise in case it so desires in an India-Pakistan context. The details of Cold Start are not officially out in the open domain. Instead there has been much informed reflection on this including by Gen. (Retd.) VP Malik, Brig. (Retd.) Gurmeet Kanwal and Brig. (Retd.) Arun Sahgal. You may like to peruse their writings. An interesting article on the theme is Waltar Ladwig's in International Security (32:3) 'A Cold Start for Hot Wars? The Indian Army’s New Limited War Doctrine'. In a nutshell, the strategy involves launch of proactive limited offensives by integrated battle groups comprising assets of both pivot corps and strike corps where available. Depending on the situation, strike corps forming up simultaneously may be launched later. The term Cold Start implies early launch of offensives, thereby undercutting the time delay that had taken place in Operation Parakram.

    In so far as missiles are concerned, their role has not been dwelt on in any great detail in open literature. This owes to missiles being taken as strategic delivery capability. However, Prithvi missile which you refer to is capable of carrying a conventional warhead and can be so employed. However, given the linkage with nuclear capability of missiles, these may not be used in a conventional limited war scenario due to their escalatory potential. A limited war can be limited along many parameters, such as time, aims, spread and weapons used. In case missiles are not used, it would be limitation along the weapons used dimension. This does not rule out their being used in a conventional role however, depending on the progress of the war. It may entail escalation of sorts, but not necessarily provocative of a nuclear escalation. In a conventional role, these could be used to supplement the firepower resources available to the land and air forces (Prithvi missiles are available with both services of differing range). The variety of warheads available indicates their utility. In so far as the other ballistic missiles are concerned, they are more directly related to the strategic capability and therefore are unlikely to be used in limited war scenario.

    The Dragon’s Shield: Intricacies of China’s BMD Capability

    China undertook a BMD test on January 11, 2010, which it claimed was an exoatmospheric interception. Though Beijing was known to be developing missile defence systems for long, there were very few indicators on how far it has gone in terms of technological prowess.

    February 25, 2010

    Hiccups in Sino-US Relations over Arms Sales to Taiwan

    The military dialogue seems likely to remain suspended over the arms sales issue; discord over Iran’s nuclear issue may increase and more war of words may define the relationships between the two countries.

    January 25, 2010